French President François Hollande will not attend the Sochi Olympics in Russia this February, the country’s foreign minister said today.
As The Guardian reports, in an interview with Europe 1 radio, Laurent Fabius said the country would not send any top officials to the Games, but did not offer any explanation as to why.
“Last week German President Joachim Gauck also said he was not going to the games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
“Activists have urged leaders to boycott the event over human rights concerns, including a new Russian law banning “homosexual propaganda.” …
“Mr Gauck announced he would not attend the Sochi games last weekend, but did not elaborate either. European Commission deputy head Viviane Reding has also said she was not attending.”
The AFP, however, reports that Gauk dismissed “media reports he is boycotting Russia over its rights record.” The French wire service adds that Reding was more forthcoming saying she would “certainly not go to Sochi as long as minorities are treated the way they are under the current Russian legislation.”
As NPR’s Corey Flintoff has reported, Russia is betting big on the event. Sochi is already the most expensive Olympics in history, with a cost expected to exceed $50 billion.